Best Asian Destinations for the U.S. Dollar
Whether you are in Asia for business or a family vacation, there are some attractions and destinations, both natural and manmade, that you can’t afford to miss. Climbing a mountain in Japan, spending a day in Tokyo, checking out a sexual sculpture park in Korea, seeing the Great Wall in China, and dining in Macau’s revolving restaurant are all destinations that will find you calling your travel agent at the last minute and extending that hotel reservation. The best part? You won’t have to take out a second mortgage when you return stateside.
In China, the best place to stay is the capital city of Beijing because it offers so many things to do. Be sure to check out the Great Wall. Over 4,000 miles long, the Wall was built to protect the Chinese empire from invading Mongolians. The Huanghua Cheng section, which literally means “yellow flower fortress,” is a must-see in summer because of the bright yellow flowers that bloom on either side of the Wall. Stretching nearly eleven kilometers long, Huanghua Cheng is especially popular with hikers.
Another great outdoor attraction is Mount Huangshan. Located on and around the mountain are hot springs, unique granite peaks, and natural pools. Half of China’s fern families are represented at Huangshan, as well as one-third of the bryophyte family. Don’t worry about the best season to visit; the foliage is radiant in all four.
If you prefer indoor attractions, don’t miss the Forbidden City, built as an Imperial Palace complex. Built from 1406-1420, the palace has over 8,000 rooms and served as the emperor’s home for five centuries. Depending on the time of year, it will cost you between 6-10 US dollars for a three-four hour tour.
Forty miles off the Korean Peninsula is Jeju Island, Korea’s answer to Hawaii. A popular honeymoon spot, Jeju offers coastal waterfalls that run straight into the sea, hot springs, SCUBA diving, a crater lake, and golden beaches. Also located on Jeju is the country’s tallest mountain, Mount Hallasan. Visit the Jeju Folk Village museum, where traditional Jeju Island culture is presented as it was in the 19th century, with a marketplace, fishing village, and old government buildings. Jeju also has a sexual sculpture park called Loveland, the only one of its kind in the country. For about five US dollars, you can enjoy a romantic hour-long walk through the park at night and look at the slightly erotic sculptures, all made by art graduates from a Seoul university.
Seoul, the economic nucleus of the country and capital of South Korea, is a metropolis brimming with interesting sights. The 63 Building, named for the number of floors, is like a skyscraper mall, with banquet halls, coffee shops, an aquarium, an IMAX theater, numerous restaurants and shops, and the best panoramic view of the city. The Summer Palace can also be found in Seoul, and it features a combination of modern and antique architecture.
Next door in the “Land of the Rising Sun,” fashion-forward Tokyo is full of action, bright lights, and technology we have only dreamed about. Speaking of technology, the Sony Building is a great place to spend a rainy afternoon. You can test drive the latest audio, visual, and computer products. Climb the musical staircase to the sixth floor, which is devoted solely to Playstation, which means you can request and then play games. It also offers free admission, so take the whole family!
Visiting Tokyo’s Dome City is an opportunity that simply cannot be passed up. It is just what it sounds like a giant dome with surrounding attractions that appeal to the eyes as well as the tastebuds. It offers a giant amusement park with bowling lanes, a huge shopping mall and spa annex called LaQua, the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, a variety of restaurants, a hair salon, SKY theater, and the Dome Hotel, which has 1,006 guest rooms, an outdoor pool, childcare facilities, and ten restaurants and lounges.
Even though Macau is not very well-known, it offers unique sightseeing and activities and should not be omitted from your travel plans simply because of anonymity. Macau offers a giant themed park called Fisherman’s Wharf, which houses small port towns. This means you can visit Cape Town, Amsterdam, and the Italian Riviera without ever boarding a plane. Macau also has a fantastic Cybernetic Fountain Show, which uses 288 lights and lasers to create a beautiful and entertaining display. You can ride a cable car over to the Guia Fort and Lighthouse, and check out the Flora Garden, an aviary and zoo, while you’re there. Be sure to grab a bite to eat in the 360 Caf, Macau’s revolving restaurant.
No matter which Asian country you visit, there are a plethora of activities to keep you busy, and all are affordable, even for a large family. Whether you visit the Great Wall, Jeju Island, the Dome City, or Fisherman’s Wharf, there is no doubt you will leave Asia with plans to return as soon as possible.